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The Popeyes chicken sandwich is back. Residents are flocking to get it.

The fast-food chain rolled out the product Sunday morning.
More than thirty people lined-up Sunday morning for the re-release of Popeyes' chicken sandwich at the chain's 34th Street location in St. Petersburg. The company hopes its sandwich can compete with Chick-Fil-A. [Brandon Meyer]
More than thirty people lined-up Sunday morning for the re-release of Popeyes' chicken sandwich at the chain's 34th Street location in St. Petersburg. The company hopes its sandwich can compete with Chick-Fil-A. [Brandon Meyer]
Published Nov. 3

Fried-chicken sandwich lovers, rejoice! Popeyes is back in the action, this time for good, the company says.

After selling out of chicken sandwiches in just two weeks in August, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen re-released its popular sandwich on Sunday.

Why the delay? It took Popeye’s suppliers two months to replenish its stocks with a fresh inventory of brioche buns and barrel-cured pickles — two of the sandwiches three main ingredients.

The sandwich is back now, though, and customers throughout Tampa Bay fled to stores to get their hands on one. Roughly 40 customers, on foot and in cars, were even queued-up around the chain’s St. Petersburg location before its doors opened.

Popeyes says it hopes its latest offering will allow it to compete with heavyweight rival Chick-Fil-A. While many competitors have attempted to knock the retailer from its perch (McDonald’s and KFC have both tried and failed), Popeyes might come the closest to succeeding. During the sandwich’s short-lived debut in August, Popeyes reported its best quarter in nearly 20 years. The success of the sandwich lifted the stock of its parent company, Restaurant Brands International, to record highs.

In April 2017, KFC released its Zinger sandwich into U.S. stores for a 14-week run. The sandwich has been a KFC staple on menu boards outside the U.S. for years. According to the company, the Zinger is KFC’s best-selling item in 120 countries. The Colonel dumped $80 million in capital into the effort and spent six months training staff for the rollout — going so far as to fly a sandwich to the edge of space. By the time fall arrived, the menu item had disappeared from U.S. stores.

Instead of reintroducing the Zinger, KFC is now back with a fried chicken breast tucked between two halves of a donut. The offering hasn’t garnered the same viral enthusiasm as Popeyes.

McDonald’s participation in the conflict is cloudy. The Tampa-based National Owners Association drew attention over the summer when the collective of franchisees begged the burger chain to give them a southern-style sandwich that could compete with Chick-Fil-A. The company proceeded to roll-out a spicy barbecue sandwich which has been derided by analysts.

The association later announced that the chain’s latest entry would be unveiled in Dallas at the group’s October meeting, but the franchisee’s reaction to the menu item is unknown. Calls to the National Owners Association have not been returned.

Popeyes’ return to the “chicken sandwich wars” comes on National Sandwich Day. The chicken outfit has trolled Chick-Fil-A’s celebration of the arbitrary holiday as all of its locations are closed on Sundays.

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